Arguments before/after Mass


#1

This is a problem I keep having and I don’t know how to overcome it.

I go to Mass every Sunday with my daughter, but my husband never goes and he has not attended Mass regularly for at least 6 or 7 years now. He insists that I am too “fanatical” about attending Mass every Sunday and that one reason he doesn’t go now is because I “nagged” him about it too much early on in our marriage and made it “miserable” for him. So after several attempts to remind him of how serious the Sunday Mass obligation is – which he totally refuses to accept – I gave up and now just assume he will stay home.

To make matters worse, we seem to have a tendency to get into arguments either right before I leave for Mass or right after I come back – usually over something fairly trivial, like dirty dishes being left in the sink, running short of some food or drink, etc. Of course, when such arguments occur right around church time he sometimes takes the opportunity to poke me about what a “fine Christian example” I’m setting :frowning:

Whenever this happens I end up leaving for Mass feeling like I shouldn’t go and I don’t deserve to be there if I’m such a lousy Catholic and a total failure at my primary duty of getting him to heaven. Or if it happens after Mass, I find myself wondering what good it did me to go.

I do try to go to confession about once a month or at least every other month and of course I am always confessing lack of charity or impatience toward my husband :frowning: Most of the time, the priest just gives me the standard advice about being more charitable toward him, praying for him, etc., which is fine, but doesn’t help me figure out how to overcome THIS particular situation.

It may be that I am extra sensitive to criticism of any kind around Mass time because that’s when I feel most acutely aware of the separation between us when it comes to religion, and of my own failure to overcome that :frowning: He faithfully attended Mass every week before we got married and for several years afterward, and I can’t help but feel that his falling away from the Church must be my fault; but I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong, or why no matter how hard I try, my good Christian example never seems to be good enough.

So, does anyone else have this problem, and what if anything can you do to stop it?


#2

You have to realize that his falling away from the Church is not your fault.

It would be one thing if you were an atheist and tried to argue him out of being Catholic, then you might have some claim to being responsible for his current lack of faith. But unless you did these things, why would you feel that it was in any way your fault?

If your husband doesn’t have faith, then he doesn’t have faith. You might increase the chances of him returning by setting a good Christian example, but the chances of his returning might still remain small depending on his reasons for leaving in the first place.

I think that to stop feeling as you do you have to believe that your husband’s situation is not your fault.


#3

So, is he a nice guy to you in all other aspects, and you going to Mass is the only thing that seems to get to him?


#4

Wow, Satan found a ventriloquist dummy to do his work for him!

I was married to one of those. When I defended myself to him, he would say “You receive communion with that tongue?” “You call yourself a good Catholic?”

He quit going to church too. Because he didn’t want to be married anymore. Going to church for him was never about God. It was about whatever made himself feel good about himself or advanced his own image. Once it didn’t work that way, he lost interest.

I bet in your case there are similarities. Mine picked fights and said unrepeatable things to me in the car and walking into church. Then got all huffy when I wouldn’t make a big deal and shake his hand at the sign of peace. I was still shaking from all the abuse he hurled at me in the car.

Yeah, the worst fights were before and after Mass. To make me not want to go, to make me feel unworthy and then to remove my peace afterward.

Your husband is trying to stop you from going because your continuing to go is a continual reproach to him and his self image. So he projects his defiance and disrespect of God on you and he becomes the virtuous one. And instead of using Church time to go shopping, he guilts you because he can’t run to the store and buy juice. Like that was in your wedding vows?

Next time, smile at him and tell him you’re sure the dishes will still be in the sink waiting for you when you get back.

:wink:

Like that was in your wedding vows too: Have and hold and do the dishes till death do you part.

I suspect he isn’t nice in a whole lotta other areas. You can’t distance yourself from God for 7 years and not expect it to tear wholes across the board in the whole fabric of character.

I’m sorry for what you’re going through. Don’t let his garbage stop you OR your daughter from going. Just comment to her on the way that you need to pray for daddy to find peace. Because if he was at peace with himself, he wouldn’t spend all his time starting fights with other people.

His next target will be enlisting your daughter in staying home with him. Undermining you taking her. It will be two against one.

When he says you’re fanatical, just remind him God made the rule and when you both die, you’ll see who was the idiot and who was smart. And whether God really meant what He said when he told you to take one hour a week out of 168 and give it back to Him.

I’m really sorry. I lived it. It isn’t fun.

May I suggest when he starts in on his tirades and nagging and commentaries about you, you just say the prayer to St. Michael over and over in your head. Don’t respond to him. Just say the prayer as he goes on. Fill your head with something besides the sound of his voice tearing you down. And smile sweetly and tell him imagine how mean you’d be if you DIDN’T go to church. :wink:

His falling away from the Church is not your fault. It is his free choice. It was not your job to drag an adult male to heaven against his will. Married couples HELP each other get there. Is he helping YOU? Or are you still trying to head in that direction in spite of him?

It is NOT your primary duty to get him to heaven. YOUR PRIMARY DUTY IS TO GET YOURSELF TO HEAVEN. You cannot force him to want it. Marriage is for mutual help and support. I suspect his reasons for not going had less with your thinking it was important and more with church teachings making him feel uncomfortable with some aspect of his life. Anything that makes him feel uncomfortable, he attacks, right?

You are a good Catholic if you keep going in the face of this abuse and are trying to pass on your values to your daughter with no help from the man who promised on the altar of God and at her baptism to raise her Catholic.

I suspect there is way more beneath the surface of this story. Just what you’ve said sounds eerily familiar.

Stop blaming yourself for his spiritual problems. He’s using you as an excuse for his own failings. A man who cared about his wife wouldn’t try to tear her down and undermine her like that.

Cook his food using blessed salt.

:wink:

I’m only half joking.


#5

:frowning: Wow, your husband doesn’t behave nice at all. Sounds like he makes you walk on eggshells. There’s only so much you can do for him. You can and should pray for him, but leave the rest in God’s hands. It’s not your failure if he rejects God, and freely chooses to walk towards perdition. Not even Jesus could save Judas against his free will. He was Jesus’ companion for 3 years, heard his teaching, saw his miracles, and yet he chose to betray him.


#6

I used to do this to my husband. I did not have faith so I got mad at him for wasting time going to church. I wanted to sin, so going to church made me feel guilty and i did not want to feel guilty. Than, last year, my lack of faith almost made me lose my family b/c of something I almost did. Somehow, my sinful behavior opened my eyes and my faith grew so strong that now I pray everyday, go to church every week, and I have literally become a new improved person:) all b/c of His glorious Holy Spirit. I’m not sure what the answer is for your husband, it took me almost losing the people I love to turn me around, and thank God, I was turned around…I saw the light of Jesus but it took years.


#7

The strange thing is that he isn’t anti-religion or even anti-Church in general, at least not all the time; he is still very pro-life, he does take an interest in things like the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, etc., and he will watch or listen to EWTN occasionally. He just insists that he doesn’t have to go to Mass every Sunday, or follow ALL the teachings of the church.

On further thought I suspect it was an attitude he picked up from his parents – they fell away from the Church when he was a little kid (shortly after Vatican II) and as a result, he didn’t receive his first Communion or get confirmed until he was an adult. While I was raised in a household where we NEVER missed Mass for any but the most serious reasons.

When I met him he was still an active “revert,” but now he seems to have “reverted” in the other direction. :mad:

His parents did return to the Church in their later years after his dad retired, so I wonder if maybe he has some vague idea of returning to the Church “someday”, just not now.


#8

Thank God for those good things. Be happy when he says the rosary or chaplet. Find a favorite EWTN program that you can watch together. Take advantage of all those things to remind him that he does love God (but don’t say anything! just do them together in a happy spirit).

As for Mass going, stick to a certain Mass schedule (not sure how many your parish offers) and schedule your morning around it. Make Sunday morning a happy time in your house. Whatever he’s doing doesn’t have to affect your mood or your plans.

My husband stopped going to church for about a year at one point when he was very stressed about work and frankly a bit depressed. I did my best to make going something he wanted to participate in. So if that meant planning breakfast/lunch out afterwords, that is what I did. We actually started attending Saturday evening Mass, so I would make a nice snack at about 3 and then tell him dinner wouldn’t be until we got home. Since he wasn’t doing anything at that time but watching TV, he eventually started coming with us again.

For you, I’d say make sure you have the dishes done Saturday night and do a quick run to the store for milk, juice whatever. Make the morning pleasant with plenty of time to dress and eat (since your daughter is still little) before you go. Yes, he’s capable of doing dishes etc., but your goal is to make Mass time attractive to him and to stave off any common triggers for arguments. Put the coffee pot on a timer and have a nice lunch idea planned for after Mass (either going on or coming home for something easy and tasty–maybe start a crock pot lunch or dinner).

Your primary responsibility is to get yourself to heaven, but marriage is also a vehicle for your both to get each other to heaven (along with your children). There is nothing wrong with making a few changes in your routine to make Sunday morning more pleasant and make Mass easier to get to (for you, your daughter and for him).

If he still picks fights, call on the grace you received from communion to avoid being dragged into it yourself.

I will be praying for you and him.


#9

Actually, our daughter isn’t “little,” she’s almost 14, but she’s autistic so she functions more on the level of maybe a 7 year old.

I think another one of the reasons he quit going to Mass was because he was embarrassed by her behavior at Mass when she was younger (squirming, hand flapping/stimming, talking to herself, blurting out inappropriate things, etc.).

She has matured and improved greatly, is now preparing to be confirmed next spring, and NO ONE else has ever complained about her behavior at Mass. (If I do say so myself, she does a lot better than some typical teens her age – and she INSISTS on wearing a nice dress or skirt every time she goes to church… so modesty isn’t a problem :slight_smile:

The sad thing, however, is that she’s gotten so used to Mass being strictly “Mom and me time” that she gets anxious and a little agitated on those rare occasions when he DOES go with us (family funerals, etc.)


#10

My guess is that your husband not going to Mass has nothing to do with you directly and nothing to do with his parents directly. It is something going on inside him. It could be serious (a real faith issue), or something less so, like he has a problem with the priest or that particular congregation. THat is, it really is about him and his relationship with God and the church. (And you may have noticed - a LOT of men don’t go to church, and I think there are reasons for that that are connected to the way it is presented.)

Now, where things get sticky with you is that you were nagging him about it, which probably made him feel guilty and defensive, without really addressing whatever difficulty he was having. So he was angry and withdrew, and clearly still feels a bit angry or unsettled about it. Now you are in a position where you aren’t even really able to have a helpful dialogue with him, or support him in his faith struggles, because he perceives you as being against him somehow.

There is probably little you can do directly, especially given how things have developed. He will have to figure it out on his own. It isn’t your responsibility to get him there. But I think you should not only keep on with not mentioning it, but stop judging him about it. It really isn’t your place. Make a point of not getting into sparring matches. Don’t engage when he says barbed things on Sunday, don’t expect that he should do the dishes while you are at church. Maybe if he stops feeling like you are judging his religious life he will even be willing to share what is going on with it.

When he says anything about your not being a fine Christian example, I’d just agree, calmly. Tell him that’s why you go to Mass. Don’t engage beyond that.


#11

He does also have some “issues” with the Church related to the fact that I was once employed by a diocesan organization and was abruptly let go (there was some warning, and I think my being let go was justified since I wasn’t performing very well at the time). As a result our lives turned upside down for a while, and we ended up having to move away from the community we both had grown up in to find new work.

I thought perhaps my not being wrapped up in “working for the Church” full time anymore, combined with our moving to a different diocese where I didn’t know personally any of the priests, religious, etc. would make it easier for him to come back, but so far, it doesn’t seem to have had any effect.


#12

Very likely you’ve hit on something. And he may even have some resentment toward God for giving him such a challenge (and a blessing–but he may not have completely figured out that part).

Perhaps your challenge is to help him (with out nagging,etc.) get to Mass at a different time from you and your daughter. Sometime other than a Sunday (or Saturday night) maybe suggest that he attend a different Mass time. Perhaps the Mass that the choir sings (or doesn’t sing). Some reason other than that your daughter doesn’t behave as well when he is there. After all, the goal is to get him to go to Mass, not necessarily to go with you.


#13

I would suggest going weekly, not because you’re doing something wrong here but because 1) it’s just a good idea but mostly 2) it’ll give you a weekly scheduled regular oppertunity to talk things over with a Priest and it sounds like you could use that.

Now most importantly if your husband is falling away it’s not your fault. Also I would suggest that your fighting around the time for mass is suggestive that there are very real tensions still centering around church. I’m not a psychologist or anything, but if it happens around mass time, all the time (before/after) then I have to believe that whatever you’re fighting about (dishes) is immaterial, you’re probably still fighting about church and don’t realize it.

So I guess the next question is… Who’s instagating most of the time? Not trying to be accusing or anything, just trying to figure how what you can do (what’s in your power to do) to try and ease those tensions. If you want to lead your husband back to the faith, these fights around mass time arent’ going to help. God bless,


#14

Sounds like all is not lost if he still has some prayer life.

I’m not of the mind you’re doing anyone any favors by completely changing your schedule to appease him. It borders on walking on eggshells. And once someone has the whole house scurrying to keep him from exploding or fighting, then the issue isn’t about Mass anymore.

You have the right to go to Sunday morning Mass with your daughter without having a nervous breakdown about whether the coffee is made or the dishes are done.

Normal men don’t cause that kind of stress on their wives.

Maybe going with him to church a few times a month alone during the evening to make a private holy hour when the church is empty of everyone but you two and God would be beneficial. Pray together without all the other distractions.


#15

I have observed not only routine arguments before Mass, but flat tires, buttons popping off clothes, lost car keys, unexpected construction projects, and time warps where tasks that should take 3 minutes morph into 20 minutes. I decided a long time ago that there is something supernatural to this phenomenon, and wherever in our lives there is a channel open to Satan, he will use that channel to create some excuse to keep us from Mass.

In Liberanosamalo’s case, there was a wide open channel in the form of her husband who would verbally abuse her just as much as Satan wanted him to abuse her. In your case, maybe your husband isn’t as bad. But the difference sounds like one of degrees, not real difference. I would be very careful about weaving all kinds of excuses for him to miss Mass. It’s a serious problem on his part and the symptom of a spirit that is in need of some kind of help.

I also would be careful about buying into this idea that it’s your fault because you “nagged” him. I do not give the idea of “nagging” any credit whatsoever. A person who whines about nagging is complaining because they acted like a child and someone repeatedly tried to correct them.


#16

Yeah, his head would swivel as he drove and he’d address me as olamasonarebiL while he was yelling at me. :wink: And the guy who would give me a nervous breakdown being on time for everything else in the world (I got the kids ready with no help) would be sitting there carefully pouring his coffee cup and taking his sweet time to get in the car and leaving only 4 minutes to drive to Mass. The one place in the world he didn’t care if we were late…

I would say there is a corollary I often find to those who complain about nagging. Those are the very same people who if you don’t tell them to do (or not do something) more than once, it becomes your fault because you didn’t remind them. :shrug:


#17

Takes two to tango.

If he baits you, don’t take the bait. Smile and go on to Mass.


#18

Liberanosamalo,

Was your ex the child of an alcoholic? I am learning more about this, and some of what you are saying fits that profile.


#19

I remember my family growing up getting into terrible arguments as we left church and got home.

I usually don’t speak about supernatural stuff but now that I am grown I think that maybe this was influenced by the Devil. I mean he would certainly seek to disrupt that which is most sacred and to try and block the manifestation of grace.

Most of the time- I believe that sin comes from man or from the flesh- but in certain situations I do believe that this could be subtle demonic influence.

The St. Michael Prayer may be helpful.


#20

Dulcissima… it went deeper than that. His childhood was similarly chaotic to that kind of household.


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